Football, Sex, and Parking

An old adage is that a university is a happy place if the administration provides football for the alumni, parking for the faculty, and sex for the students.

I assume that the free market is working well at my university for the students; and the university administration always works hard on football for the alumni: we’re now building a 15,000 seat addition to the already 80,000-seat football stadium.

Being a faculty member, I worry about faculty parking.

Many of my colleagues have had parking spots next to our building, but most of that parking lot is being replaced by a new building — so they’ve been exiled to a garage four long blocks away. This annoys me, but using the lot for a building makes sense; the opportunity cost of the land is far too high to waste on parking. I just hope the building has a lot of square footage so that this valuable land is used intensively.

I wonder, though, whether the people who administer this university thought their choices through. The extra 20 minutes (the walks to/from the garage) are a fixed cost of people’s daily commutes. This additional fixed cost gives them a disincentive to come into the office each day, and an incentive to try bunching their appointments, teaching, and office hours on fewer days to spread the fixed costs.

Since they have some freedom over their schedules, henceforth some of them may be working entirely at home more often. They will become a partial tele-commuter thanks to these changed incentives.

The cohesiveness of the university community might be reduced.

Rich Wilson

"Since they have some freedom over their schedules, henceforth some of them may be working entirely at home more often. They will become a partial tele-commuter thanks to these changed incentives."

You say that like it's a bad thing.

anonymous (for my own good)

Just about every college professor I know (and I'm married to one) could use the extra exercise.

Zane Selvans

Why should universities subsidize their employee parking at all? If everyone had to pay the actual cost of a parking space, (~$100/month for an open lot, ~$200/month for a spot in a structure, ~$300/month for a subterranean spot) we'd be making very different transportation choices. At the very least, the University should offer all their employees the same subsidy: Take the $200/month in cash, or as a parking spot, and then see what the actual demand for parking is, when people know what it really costs to provide. Read Donald Shoup's "The High Cost of Free Parking" for more information than you ever wanted on the (skewed American) economics of parking (ISBN:1884829988).


Re: #13 - As a student of said university and department, it's not bad, just that there's no direct shuttle to the nearest garage from the building. And crossing streets on campus is trickier than doing the limbo.

Can't we just use the equity vote here? If I remember correctly Economics has three principles: equity, stability and growth (accdg to the book anyway). I suppose we're just trading-off stability for equity (or is it growth?).

David Damore

RE: Post #4

How is the sex? Are the students getting enough to make them happy? You didn't address that point.

- Posted by L

Think that's what is called a snare. Clever headline. That word will probably increase readership 200-300%.

Perhaps Daniel will post again with a different headline and see the difference in hit count.

A follow up article could examine how marketers word choices interest consumers.

Freakonomics Readers: What do you think would be a good way to create an analysis and methodology to test that?


At the 3 remaining all-male institutes (one of which I attend), as well as the ~75 all-female institutes in the US, the free market is rather inefficient from the student perspective :-(


26: As a male who attends a college near two women's colleges, I can attest that there are very large potential gains from trade in this situation.


How about convincing the university to design the new building with a parking garage in its basement? You could possibly increase the parking in the area by taking this route. And selling parking passes for the spots not taken by faculty could result in increased revenue.



that is my econometrics professor!


I'm thinking the professors must not be getting enough sex if they're cranky about such a trivial thing as walking ten minutes from their car.


You want to see a mess? Look at a military base gate in the morning. Thousands of people engrained with the idea of being at certain place by a certain time wasting time and labor hours sitting in line waiting to get into a base. Such a waste of man-hours. If they only staggered their times to "report" to work and reduced the choke points at the gates. Inefficiency in action.


here in Australia, the local government requires in all their planning permissions that all multi-level new buildings to provide two levels of underground parking with everybuilding. This helps aleviate the parking congestion.

and to Brian - if I was one of the professors are getting the sex IN my office - I'd be complaining about the extra walk to the office to


And the problem is ...? Telecommuting one day a week seems like a fine thing for an academic to choose to do.

And if the consequence is fewer people driving their wasteful, smog belching, lethal, one-tonne hunks of visibility-impairing metal near me whilst I'm cycling to work, then so much the better.


I think it'll be nice for the faculty to have to walk for a bit to get to their cars. It will increase visibility for students, perhaps encouraging them to attend office hours. It'll also be a great way for them to take in some fresh air and rely less on their cars. It's great!


Destroying parking space is a powerful incentive to use public transportation, as it makes driving less and less convenient. This is the most important issue, the environment.


#32 In the UK, planning for a new building in many areas is likely to restrict parking and require that it be shown the people working there (or a good proportion of them)can attend by public transport...


The parking lot in question is 10 yards away from the Economics building, where Prof. Hamermesh's fellow faculty work. The building is a significant boon to the students, although definitely at the expense of parking which is vacant from the UT campus.

My guess is that the faculty are complaining about one of their major perks - short walks in the morning.


"However, among my generation, (and I'm not THAT old) co-ed is still used, perhaps out of habit, but habits are sometimes difficult to break."

especially when they allow you to assert your dominance over women, no matter how subtly. You already make the point that you hate feminists, but the truth is that you hate women in any kind of power scenario. My grandfather isn't this backward in his thinking.


As for all the suggestions about underground parking beneath the building, it may work in Georgia, but said Univ is on huge beds of limestone; it'd take dynamite and/or years of work to dig it out.

And in a 50,000 student university, you don't just run into your professors as they walk to the parking lot.


Two words: underground parking.